- Medically, be your own healthcare advocate. Ask questions. Have a friend go who can write down the answers. Have a copy of all of your medical records. Research various options – you always have options even if one of them is to do nothing. Make sure you understand EVERYTHING they are doing to you and giving you and why they are asking you that. I already knew this stuff thanks to my brilliant mom, but it sure came to the forefront in this whole ordeal.
- One of the reasons I love the medical field is because people don’t feel good. Their pretenses are down. They are in a state of wanting to be serious and reflective about life and suffering and purpose. They are more apt to dispense with the trivialities and be open to compassion and encouragement and Truth. If you have this compassion and encouragement and Truth, perhaps God could use you in this field.
- I feel like I really need to emphasize that not only is Dr. Timmerman brilliant, but his intelligence is matched by his kindness and humility. While this seems to be the case with all of my current physicians, I realize this is extremely rare. Jesus said that it was harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Of course, material wealth and the comfort that goes with that can be a huge stumbling block. I wonder how intelligence in today’s culture compares to that. It breeds a self-reliance that seems to be void of the need for God. Oftentimes that intelligence festers into pride and arrogance and there becomes a crust around the heart. Humility to self-examine without justifying sin is simply gone. Because of this, I am more fascinated and appreciative of Dr. Timmerman than I think he will know. The kindness and compassion he exhibited is incompatible with a crusty, festering heart.
- The Lord was so good through this whole thing. On paper, saying I have a brain tumor sounds awful. In reality, it was a breeze for me and Nam and I had peace the whole time. We decided early on that we wanted this to be a way of serving the Lord and let Him do with it what He would. As always, He was faithful.
- I think I encouraged some patients and I certainly loved my peek into this vein of the medical industry. More importantly, God certainly increased my compassion and gentleness. And that is worth so much!
- Nam and I were reading in Philippians earlier today and I had some thoughts on a few verses:
- “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – The Lord will not abandon me. Ever. And, He is doing something in me! There is a PURPOSE for where I am and what I’m going through – good and bad. I can trust the Lord in this whether I see that purpose immediately or not. If I’ve learned nothing else this past year, I’ve learned this.
- “What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” – Yes, I was able to share the gospel. I think that I have been able to live the gospel. Better yet, I know that the Lord will continue to use this in other people’s hearts and in MY heart for eternity.
- “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” – I stumbled here, and Nam was adamant that I should not. He told me that I have encouraged him to be more bold in speaking about Christ. He said he thought it was unbelievable to see the ease that I approached people with to show concern, give encouragement, and share Christ. That’s really something because I don’t think it was easy at all – I always felt awkward and scared and feel like I fumble, but I want to serve the Lord and let Him go through me, so I did it anyway. It’s neat to see that from an outsider’s perspective, the Lord was there making it look graceful! And, courageous? There is a cost to sharing the gospel. There is a cost to following Christ. Sometimes the cost is looking stupid to naysayers. Sometimes the cost is verbal persecution and character slander. Sometimes the cost is a job (thinking of Professor Paul D. here). Sometimes the cost is a life (support Voice of the Martyrs). Slowly but surely, the Lord is making me more courageous. He is opening my eyes more and more to the cost of NOT following Him and my heart aches to the point that being scared of losing my own life is diminished. Not gone, but diminished. And surely that’s moving towards the goal: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” That is the intimacy this side of death.
- “For I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” – YES! The POWER OF PRAYER! That has sustained Nam and me in the darkest hours and certainly the prayers of the saints (my dear brothers and sisters) have elevated us to the joy we’ve had this entire time. And, even if I can’t see it now, I KNOW I can trust the Lord to use this for my transformation. He IS trustworthy and He IS loving and He cannot be anything but! Though my time in radiation is done, I do not want to stop learning from this. I want to look back year after year and see new ways I had missed that God’s hand was all over this.
- “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” – Surely I complain and argue, but in this thing, I did not. That’s a huge work of the Holy Spirit right there! But, the cool thing is how that has proved Scripture! Because in this thing, I have been told that my attitude on it has impacted others. I want to do this. I want the Lord to shine through me so that when others see a difference, when they see light, I can point to the God of Glory and say here, you can have it, too! And, yes, I want to know that I am not striving for the Lord in vain. What will the Bema seat show!
- “And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.” – Paul was in chains when he wrote this! It was not his confidence in the guards, the government, or himself that he thought he may be with them. It was in Christ! It is this confidence that I can take to any situation and know that God has His best for me. I never have to question that, and that was the initial hump to get over at the beginning of all of this. Yet, in Christ I trusted, and He delivered…yes, health, but more importantly, peace.
- “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – the goal is not Burt’s death, vision, health, children, or any other thing. The goal is simply Christ Himself. And I have Him now. I gain Him more every day. I will have Him wholly as my life continues after the body fails. This is the prize, this is the goal, and it is more indescribable every single day. I can only imagine…
- I feel it’s probably pretty important to note here that Paul gives us a formula for peace: “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” How to have peace? Rejoice in who God is, Let God in you be evident, Cast your anxiety onto the Lord in prayer and ask Him for what you want, being thankful for ALL things – even the difficult things (after all, He’s got a plan to work it out!). For me, the key to figuring this out was the being thankful part. How can I be thankful for dead sons? How can I be thankful for a brain tumor? It is a challenge. But, I realized, besides various aspects I could thank God for, I could thank Him for the whole thing because it would somehow serve for His glory and His purpose, and by the way, Lord, would you let me be a part of that even in this difficult thing?
- “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” – I don’t have to do it of my own strength; I am sure I can’t. I just have to rely on the Lord and seek how He would have me go. First, through His word, and second, through His Holy Spirit residing in my heart. I start with confession – agreeing with God on the condition of my heart – ask Him to wash it away and renew me. Then, I pour out my heart of the hard things ahead and ask Him to pedal. He does it every time.
- “And my God will meet all your (my) needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” – It’s about Christ. Whatever the question is, Christ is the answer. Whatever the need is, Christ is the way. My life has proven this over and over again. Tis so sweet..
I praise God for directing this entire thing, and I thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement. I continue to be overwhelmed and unable to express my gratitude to my sisters-in-sorrow for their outstretched arms from around the world. While I know we miss our children, surely what you have given me is the reciprocal of that hurt.
With this ordeal concluded, Nam and I are moving Beyond This Desert…for God has more.